Courtney Welcomes Visitors To Washington’s Largest Event Facility

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Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center in Seattle welcomes over 400,000 guests each year. However, the 30-year-old wayfinding system at WSCC struggled to greet, guide and direct these guests. Built in a challenging urban location, the success of the original building led to three expansions, spreading across several city blocks and creating the largest meeting and event facility in Washington State. During a series of updates, the design vision of the original program was lost, resulting in a confusing mix of design and directions powered by outdated technology and missing elements. Schedules at Conference rooms used paper signs in cabinets while floor level indicators were absent, disorienting guests using eight different entrances to access four floors. 
 
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Michael Courtney Design (MCD) was asked to develop a branded information system to help users navigate with confidence and comfort, link the diverse spaces together with a system authentic to the space and architecture, and generally elevate the guest experience. The design team took a hands-on approach spending hours at WSCC observing visitor behaviors, reactions and navigation patterns. With a better understanding of visitor’s needs, MCD designed a clear and concise wayfinding program that is clean and contemporary, using hospitality grade materials and aligning with
the architect’s interior changes. The signage color palette includes warm brown wood, greens and blues, and silver typography. MCD chose a clean, modern typeface, and designed the overhead signs with a thin profile. The logo and color palette are embedded into 3form Varia Ecoresin, a translucent material that has a soft glow when illuminated. 
 
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In the main lobby, MCD introduced a distinctive landmark — “Welcome” — to greet visitors, incorporated technology at key locations and developed a consistent, easy-to-follow graphic language. The success of the project,  he points out, depended on close collaboration between the design team, WSCC, EHS Design, Square Root Design and Tube Art Sign and Display. The initial phases of the wayfinding program and new technology is in place, with the third phase including a “Ring of Fire” scheduled for implementation in 2016.